By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Once More Back Into The MGM Mire
Someone is out there selling the idea that neither Lionsgate nor Summit would be paying itself for marketing and distribution under a pseudo-merger agreement with MGM.
There are reasons for MGM debt holders to prefer this group or that.
Spyglass’ last 10 released films were; Get Him to the Greek, Leap Year, Invictus, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Star Trek, Four Christmases, Flash of Genius, Ghost Town, The Love Guru, Wanted
Lionsgate’s last 10 release were; Killers, Kick-Ass, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?, From Paris with Love, The Spy Next Door, Daybreakers, Brothers, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, Saw VI, More Than a Game
Sumit’s last 10 releases were; Letters to Juliet , Furry Vengeance, Remember Me, The Ghost Writer, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Astro Boy, Sorority Row, Bandslam, The Hurt Locker, The Brothers Bloom
Which business do you see as the one that can rebuilt the studio’s image enough to make it a more attractive library target?
Spyglass distributing through Sony or Paramount – pretty much the range of likely distributors for them – means that MGM/Spyglass product can have a distributor that is in the business of releasing movies full-time. It also means a distributor that has shown the ability to take a film gross over $100 million on a consistent basis. This is no small thing.
Neither Summit nor Lionsgate will be absorbed by MGM. Neither is likely to keep the current production, distribution, or marketing teams in place. So in terms of distribution and marketing, the question is, do you want Sony or Paramount selling your movies or do you want Summit or Lionsgate doing that job?
MGM will not be any more than a glorified production company no matter who they choose. No one – and no one on the horizon – wants to make the studio whole. There is too much baggage… as I have been saying forever.
MGM remains a good play for Summit because it would give them a place to put their Twilight cash and they can keep building. It’s fine for Lionsgate, so long as they don’t take on funding responsibilities and get an outside fund that allows them to make more movies, spread out their expenses, and own a piece of The Lion in the end, if things work out. Spyglass is also there for a piece of the library for pretty much doing what they have been doing for a long while.
My bet is on Spyglass with Sony distributing and, in the end, perhaps finding a way back to the MGM library itself.
Finally, despite ongoing efforts to spin Peter Jackson into some sort of leaf in the wind regarding The Hobbit… he’s always been there… he’s not fully committed… it’s not just about money… and as everyone who knows what’s going on with this situation – except for the person claiming a scoop – knows, MGM is the central problem that sent Guillermo packing. The Hobbit will happen, with Peter directing or not. But if it doesn’t happen this fall, it probably won’t happen until 2013 or 2014. Jackson does not want to leave WB hanging in the breeze for their investment to date… but there is only so far they can push the start date. Jackson has been very clear about wanting to make the previously mentioned release dates.
Yes, the legal work for whomever MGM settles on will take months. But there is a point at which the Hobbit/Bond machine can move forward if serious committments are made. Those films are the carrot. Now someone needs to figure out how to use the stick without sticking themselves in the eye, because if Hobbit does push to 2014, the entire effort to move the studio forward could fall apart and debt holders could be forced to face the harsh reality of the company’s current value.